The most horrific horror movies banned from cinema

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Image: New Line Cinema / United Artists Europa / Greycat

Horror, shock and fear are the main drivers of successful cinema. The affront to our normal sensibilities and cultural beliefs challenges us – why do we like violence and be afraid? Can something be too horrible? The answer – yes.

Horror cinema has spawned long-standing franchises such as Friday 13, Scream, and Halloween. But there have been films deemed too much for the public and subsequently banned.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Image: Vortex

One of the best in horror cinema and one of the first slashers to make its way into popular culture. Based loosely on the story of American serial killer Ed Gein, the film was produced on a fairly small budget in 1974, but took advantage of its minimalist setting to maximize horror.

The violence was an affront to contemporary sensibilities, and the now iconic villain Leatherface unleashed the terror (and a long-standing media franchise). The film was director Tobe Hooper’s first directorial credit, which sparked a long career that arguably culminated in the 1982 film. Fighting spirit.

Cannibal holocaust

Image: United Artists Europe

There is a mixture of legend and myth that darkens Cannibal holocaust in the decades since its release. An Italian film directed by one of the greats of their cinema, Ruggero Deodato, Cannibal holocaust is one of the first films of found images and undoubtedly paved the way for Witch Blair et al.

An American rescue team from New York goes deep into the Amazon rainforest to rescue a team of documentary filmmakers who went missing during their filming. The film shows brutal displays of violence and blurs the line between fiction and reality, especially for 1970s audiences.

One particularly famous scene whose legitimacy audiences questioned was a brutally impaled woman. It took a long time for the world to find out more about the truth around this movie, and it was indeed part of a hoax that it was all real.

Henry: Portrait of a serial killer

Image: Gray cat

A spiritual successor to Stanley Kubrick A clockwork orange in the story and the character, Henry: Portrait of a serial killer frightened the audience so much that they were convinced it was not a fictional story… but a documentary. This is one of the many times that I question the intelligence of moviegoers, because I’m not sure how something like this could be considered even close to being a documentary.

Starring Michael Rooker as the titular Henry, this is a prime example of how to most convincingly convey to an audience an outright psychopath.

The film’s release in 1986 immediately earned it an X rating in the United States. The uncut version of the film is still not available in Australia.

Faces of death

Image: Liberation of Aquarius

With a title like that, we always have a good time. This 1978 film gained notoriety for extreme violence and graphic imagery, as the film interspersed images of real and fake deaths. One of the many times you’ll say to yourself, “Wait, why?” “, Well because why not. Banned in at least 46 countries.

Notoriety and moral outrage gave films like these an extra boost and served only as marketing. Faces of death is still considered one of the most horribly gruesome movies of all time. Not bad for a film that is essentially a treatise on our collective societal fears of death.

Diabolical death

Image: New cinema line

nineteen eighty one Diabolical death launched the career of horror writer Sam Raimi and the career of the big B-movie Bruce Campbell. A brutal horror film in its day, and castigated by the press as one of many ‘video villains’ when it was released on VHS in the UK.

For a film made by a student on a low budget, it is very efficient and creative with its budget. He was banned for graphic violence, blood, sex, gore and brief nudity. The caption of its ban doesn’t quite do the film justice. I still maintain that this is a horror comedy, but the comedic part was only discovered in the many years after the initial release.


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